Being a supportive husband isn’t just about not curbing your wife’s night outs or letting her cook Italian that night you were craving hamburgers. While that is definitely supportive and accepting in its own way, being a supportive partner actually goes farther than that.
We often talk about good sex, communication, commitment and honesty being some of the fundamental pillars of relationships. But is that really all? Where did “Support” get lost in all of this? Without support, a partner may feel discouraged and invalidated. This is why it is important to make sure that your relationship is a healthy space where both people feel understood, heard, and most importantly, supported by the other.
To shed some more light on the same, we bring you an honest account of a woman and how her supportive husband became her best friend who helped her get through all her challenges. If you’ve always wondered how to be emotionally supportive in a relationship, read ahead and find out.
When My Once Reluctant Husband Became My Biggest Supporter
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As told to Bonobology by Pratibha Agarwal, this story of a supportive husband shows us that without support, a marriage can never reach its full potential. Let’s take a look at how her spouse ended up giving her the courage and motivation she needed to pursue her dreams.
I never had any kind of independence
My life always felt scripted. Born and brought up in a small town with a loving family, I was sheltered, protected, and pampered. After completing my education, I married and relocated to a big city to begin afresh, with new hopes of giving and receiving love, and dreams of writing a part of my own life story.
I have always been a people person and strongly felt that it was my calling to be in teaching. My desire to work was not from rebellion but to step out of my comfort zone, try something new and make something of my time. No woman in my family or my husband’s family was working or had ever even worked before. But I had an itch to do something more. I had never had any kind of independence or even financial freedoms before, but I needed it now.
In the beginning, it didn’t really feel like I had a supportive husband. I always wanted to work and give something back to society, but I wasn’t allowed to, which crushed me.
At first, he was not being a supportive partner
It’s difficult to break out of the mold one has grown up loving. My husband was comparatively cooperative initially, but he was not used to seeing women work. When the principal wanted to give me more responsibilities, it put a strain on our relationship. Then I got pregnant and so my aspirations went on the back burner.
I had to choose between a baby and a career, and I chose to have kids. Don’t get me wrong, it was not a sacrifice. My two sons were my life and nothing else mattered. My family was my very own universe. But just like our bigger cosmos, this one too needed expanding.
After almost 20 glorious married years and two grown children, I found myself wanting more from myself and from life. The more I thought about it, the louder the voice within me grew. As my kids were grown up and things on the home front had become more manageable, being the homemaker now did not require as much work as before and so I thought perhaps my time had finally come to conquer my dreams.
I now wanted to find more purpose in my being. As I’ve always been the kind to give back to society, I couldn’t just sit at home and let my days go to waste. I now had to choose between being a full-time mother or having a career. Supporting your partner had always been the pinnacle of marriage for me, but I wasn’t too sure if my otherwise supportive partner would wholeheartedly encourage me to make a career.
How I found a new purpose in life
At first, yoga was a way to deal with these emotions I had of trying to find a deeper purpose. To try and understand them, give me something to do as my nest grew empty and days seemed longer. Soon it grew on me. Unknowingly, I had found a new calling.
I went from taking yoga classes to teaching them myself. It has been six years now and somehow it seems like a lifetime. Not because the time seems tedious, but because the transition has been so smooth. And there is only one person to thank for that, who stood up and stood by while I went about workshops and classes – my supportive spouse. If anyone ever wants to learn and understand, “How to support your partner?”, one should do it from him.
Pursuing yoga at my age was an exciting discovery, but also one filled with nervousness. I had many questions about how I’d be able to handle this and being a mother. But when support in a relationship is present, there isn’t much you can’t do. We improved our communication in our relationship and the rest followed.
I fell in love with yoga. I was always one who was inclined toward teaching and the sense of accomplishment it gave me was hard to find elsewhere. I decided to continue on my journey, but the inevitable problems were thrown my way as well.
How my supportive husband made my life easier
The change was not easy, even though his support made it seem so. I remember when I was in Goa for an important course and began to feel homesick. My younger son fell ill. I decided I’d had enough and wanted to return. But my husband encouraged me to stay on. “When you have given so much of your time and effort to this, don’t leave it now,” he said, “Stay on and stay strong. I will take care of the house and the children. Remember, I am always here for you.”
Knowing that there was someone who had such rock-solid support and faith in my abilities pushed me to go on and not just complete the course, but take up yoga as a profession. Without my husband’s unwavering support, I could not have managed this mid-life transition as smoothly and with such confidence. This was the same man who was once apprehensive of me working! He truly learned how to be a better husband and gave me more than what I could have asked for.
I was pleasantly surprised and felt so grateful that I had such a supportive husband. In the beginning, because of his rather regressive upbringing, he was not used to seeing women work. He managed to unlearn all those regressive thoughts and gave me the support I needed. We realized that support is one of the fundamental pillars of a good marriage.
Related Reading: 9 Ways To Deal With An Unsupportive Husband
It was a slow change
I’ve always wondered what made him come around to understanding my desire to have a life beyond family. To comprehend that finding a career would not mean sacrificing family time. It has been a long journey of acceptance and faith, for us both. I had faith in him and respected his frame of thought when he wanted me to be home. I never pulled at the thread so hard that it snapped. Instead, I gave him enough room to know that I accepted his way of thinking, because at the end of the day, we are a team.
The change may seem sudden, but it was slow and consistent. As I let go, so did he. He saw that I could manage both work and family. And if I fell short, he could compensate for it. We could both grow as individuals only if we grew as a couple and vice versa.
How to support your spouse?
To those in a situations similar to ours, all I can tell you is to believe in yourself and your relationship. Do not pit one against the other. Nurture what qualities your spouse has. Improve conflict resolution and always aim for support. Marriage is the tree we water every day for years, when one fine day, it suddenly blooms
When a husband supports his wife, it makes both of them feel that much more powerful and confident in the relationship and in themselves. To all the husbands, supporting your wife will not only make the relationship better but also a more harmonious experience.
My husband is today my rock and the reason I can leave home, travel around the world pursuing my passion, because he understands that work and home are not disparate, but a confluence of my energies, just like our marriage.
We work on things together, in tandem. I write my future with my own words of love, trust, sharing, support and faith. A few chapters began late because others needed more time. My story isn’t scripted anymore because it isn’t just mine. It’s ours.
5 Ways To Be A Supportive Husband
After that beautiful story of how this couple rediscovered and redesigned their relationship, we can’t help but share with you our two cents on how to be a supportive partner to your spouse. It’s easy to play the blame game, act controlling and jealous in a relationship or have an it’s my way or the highway attitude.
But to overlook all those negative qualities and see your partner as a whole, trying to accept them for who they are and loving them all the same, is a much harder but much nobler thing to do. Love will falter without support, at the end of the day. So if you really want to make this relationship last, love your wife and are serious about being happy with her, then these 5 ways to support your spouse are for you.
1. Listen fully before giving your opinion
Being a supportive partner is not about letting your wife get away with whatever she wants to do and letting her walk all over your opinions and ideas. You two are equals in this relationship and that’s how things must go. Your ideas and notions are just as valid as hers and being a supportive spouse, does not change that. All it changes is that despite that, you do your level best to be more understanding of her.
When she is sharing something with you, make sure you don’t dismiss it immediately. Listen, and listen to her intently. Understand why she thinks this, why she wants things a certain way and how it is important to her. Developing listening skills is tough but essential for sustaining all long-term relationships.
2. How to be a supportive husband? Believe in your partner
Without faith and trust, you will go nowhere in your marriage. When we tell you that faith is the foundation of any relationship, we really mean it. Sometimes, being a supportive husband is just about telling your partner that you believe in them and will stand by them no matter what. Similar to what we read in the story above, such words provide comfort and reassurance to the other person.
When they feel this kind of love and kindness radiating from you, they will undoubtedly feel cherished and understood by you. This in turn will also make them have faith in you.
Related Reading: 13 Signs You Have A Faithful And Loyal Partner
3. Try to be emotionally available to them
Shunning them off every time they want to discuss something distressing or walking out during fights is not the answer to, “How to support your partner?” Supporting your partner is about staying with them, and staying through it all no matter how uncomfortable things may get. Even when things get ugly, try to be as honest as you can with them.
Allow yourself to open up to them, share your apprehensions and fears, and let them know your vulnerabilities and insecurities as well. Only if you allow them to see you in your most real and raw form, will they know that you are in this relationship with both hands in and are willing to make this work. Ignoring the problem or giving the silent treatment after fights won’t always work.
4. Encourage them without judging
Don’t doubt their abilities all the time. In fact, you should encourage them and be there for them even if they are doubting themselves. More so, in fact. As a supportive husband, you should want to see your spouse chase their dreams, achieve their goals, flourish and be happy. Without encouraging them and offering them your backing, they might never be able to do that wholeheartedly.
As a counterpart in this relationship, it is important that you do your best to be there for them. Even if that sometimes means disagreeing with them but still being their biggest champion!
5. How to be emotionally supportive? Apologize when you need to
Offering emotional support in a relationship is not only about lending an ear or a helping hand. Sometimes, it’s about acknowledging your own mistakes and respecting your partner enough to apologize to them when you are in the wrong. If you keep blame-shifting and running away from your mistakes, you are being a selfish partner and not a supportive one.
You should try to consciously make an effort to recognize your mistakes and change for the better, all for the sake of this relationship. The change should come earnestly from within. You are not just supporting your partner, but your relationship as well.
From the woman’s personal account earlier, we are sure you must have understood the importance of being a supportive husband in a relationship. It can not only foster love, but bring growth to the relationship and allows you two to really appreciate and understand one another. We hope we’ve answered the question, “How to be a supportive husband?” Armed with all these tips, you can now go out there and be the best spouse ever to her!
If your husband is not emotionally supportive, you need to improve communication with him, tell him your bare minimum expectations and have the tough conversations with him that you may have been avoiding. Put your foot down and let him know that without support, your marriage will never be as good as it should be.
A supportive relationship will not only improve the quality of your marriage, it will eventually improve your well-being in all aspects of your life as well. When you have a pillar of support you can always rely on, you’ll never feel alone in your struggles which will make you more confident to handle the problems life throws at you. A loving, secure and fulfilling relationship can only be achieved once you both support each other.